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Staying Home Instead

Mothering with Morning Sickness

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 3, May-June 2003, p. 100

"Staying Home Instead" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help parents who choose to stay at home with their children. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's life-style. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.

Situation

I'm pregnant again, and although I'm delighted about it, I'm upset about what it's done to me. I'm having such terrible morning sickness that I feel as though I'm neglecting my other two young children. How do I keep my children busy when all I want to do is sleep all day?

Response

I remember having a terrible sinus infection while I was pregnant with my third child. I spent days lying on the sofa, getting up only to prepare food for my other two or find yet another thing for them to play with. My husband came home to a kitchen heaped with dishes and toys cluttering the floor.

I found it helped to relax my standards of "no TV." There are some very high quality children's videos available these days. A friend of mine watched lots of musicals with her children, and now they can all sing the songs together. Another favorite thing of mine was to get into the bathtub with the two children. They were happy to play there for a long time and it was relaxing for me. Hair dresser was another game we played. I'd bring out a basket of barrettes and clips and brushes and we would take turns styling each others' hair. It was very relaxing, and nice open-ended play.

Feeling guilty about neglecting the other two is a waste of your limited energy. Of course you are doing what any mother does-the best she can under the circumstances. Yes, the children are getting less attention while you are pregnant, but you are giving them the incredible gift of another sibling.

Carol Miranda
Bridgewater NJ USA

Response

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I recently gave birth to my third child and it has really been a joy. My oldest is now five, and my middle child 30 months old. When I was pregnant for the third time, I was lucky to again avoid morning sickness, but I did experience the same all over tiredness that many pregnant women feel. Fortunately, my then almost two-year-old was still taking naps (and nursing), so in the early months of pregnancy I often napped with him during the day while my then four-year-old watched a video (and made chocolate milk!).

This is also a great time to get on the floor to play with your children. Lie on your side and rest while you help build a tower. Lie down on the floor to color with your toddler. Just be sure you lie in such a position that your little ones can't jump on your belly, aggravating that morning sickness!

Don't forget that your oldest is growing and may be able to help you in more ways than you realize. If possible, put snacks and drinks within easy reach in the refrigerator, and teach your older child how to get a snack and a drink for herself and her sibling. Have your oldest bring you things you need, and be sure to pour on the praise when she accomplishes a task. Officially designate your oldest child "Mommy's Helper." Your child will love the attention and praise, and you will appreciate the help just as much after the baby is born.

My husband was also a great help in the evenings, taking over much of the mealtime and bedtime duties when I was just feeling too exhausted to do it. If your husband is like mine, he knows from experience that pregnancy is temporary, and that the extra work he does to help you is also temporary.

If your children have friends they play with, now may be a good time to ask if they can go visit more than having his friends come to play at your house. Most likely, everyone will understand. Most mothers have gone through the same things that you are going through now. And remember that soon you will be holding your new little babe at your breast and all the struggles of this pregnancy will be a distant memory.

Shelly Stanley
Olympia WA USA

Response

I too fought with almost unbearable morning sickness with both my children. During the second pregnancy it was very tough trying to occupy a three-year-old and rest. I got help from family. And when my husband got home, he often took our three-year-old to do great and fun things while I slept. Children have a terrific way of coping. I encouraged gentle, quiet, and restful activities. And I did a lot of lying down, snuggling, and reading. I played games while lying down, too. He may have only been three, but my son Josh understood when I did not feel very well. Thankfully, after 12 weeks, no more morning sickness.

Vera Lynn Richardson
Chillicothe OH USA

Response

Boy, can I relate! When I was pregnant with our third child, there were times when I was so tired that I just had to lie down. Our older two children were about two and three years old then. Sometimes I would put on a video for the children and tell them that mommy really needed to rest. I'd tell them to wake me up if they needed anything, then I would stretch out on the couch and tell them they could not leave the room.

Another tactic was to place some toys on the bedroom floor for them while I rested in bed. If it was afternoon, I would suggest us all curling up together on the big bed for some quiet time. Some days this worked better than others, but for the most part they did okay.

During my fourth pregnancy, I tried some of the suggestions in Dr. Sears' The Pregnancy Book. The two that worked the best and kept my morning sickness to a minimum were eating lots of fresh tomatoes and having a late night snack of an ounce or two of protein-rich foods, such as cheese cubes or turkey.

Lisa Holstein
Vicenza Italy

Response

I was very sick with my second child. Just the act of throwing up 12 times a day drained what little energy I had. At the suggestion of my midwife and because at that time I would have tried anything, I went for acupuncture. The difference was amazing! I encourage you to give it a try.

Also, we had many bed picnics. Dad makes food in the morning picnic style and we read, play, and color, all in the bed. It worked for me to be the host for play dates. That way your children get to play and you can lie on the couch. Most importantly, remember this is a temporary situation. This time next year they will be enjoying their new sibling!

Ann Bennett
Austin TX USA

Response

This situation sounds like my last pregnancy! I was so happy to be pregnant with my third child but I also had terrible morning sickness and was exhausted. The key for me was to cut back on all of our activities; however, we did increase the things that the children did with daddy on the weekend so that they didn't get too bored. I think they felt as though they were getting even more attention because we were more focused on each other.

To combat fatigue, I read stories and I watched them dance and play while I rested on the couch. To deal with morning sickness I prepared snacks during my best time of day and put them in a "special" drawer in the refrigerator-it included juice boxes, cut up fruits and vegetables, and sandwiches. I also put their cups and plates in a lower kitchen drawer so that they could help themselves and keep me out of the kitchen. Through it all I made sure that I consistently praised their "grown up" and "helper" behavior and I really think it helped them make the transition from dependent little ones to older siblings.

Lisa Cortez Barry
Gardena CA USA

Response

First things first-cut yourself some slack, you are making a baby and it is no easy process. Ask for extra help from your partner, family members, and friends. If cooking is hard, buy pre-packaged and prepared whole foods such as carrots and salad, so that dinner preparations are quicker. Ask friends to prepare some extra food and drop it off at dinnertime. You will repay them in the second trimester when you get your second wind.

Another thing that I did was go into my son's bedroom, close the door, make the room dim, put on a soothing CD, and lie on his bed while he played. He wasn't napping any longer (to my dismay) but I could manage to rest a little knowing that he wasn't watching TV or getting into trouble. I could also lie on the bed or couch and read books or color with him, which was helpful.

Ask your friends to come over with their children and then go take a nap. Ask your partner to help with food preparations, shopping, and other errands. Good luck!

Genevieve Colvin
Sherman Village CA USA

Response

I have also been miserably sick and fatigued at the beginning of my pregnancies. I got pregnant for the second time when my daughter was three years old. I felt like I wasn't a "good mother" to her, especially during my first trimester. I did spend part of each afternoon resting on the couch. I wasn't able to cook a variety of nutritious meals for her because the smell of food was so nauseating. I'll admit that I relaxed my limits on TV and video viewing. My husband works many hours a week and he was not much help with housework, cooking, or caring for my daughter. Although, as I mentioned, I felt like I was not being a good mother, when I look at what really happened with my daughter, I realize that she experienced a tremendous growth in maturity and responsibility during this time. She learned to prepare simple foods for herself. She learned the self-control not to wake me when I was having my desperately needed afternoon nap. She learned to entertain herself for much longer periods of time than she had previously. I realized that her abilities were much greater than I had known, and it took this period of crisis to bring them out.

Although my pregnancy was a difficult time for both my daughter and me, it was also a time of growth for both of us. I believe she experienced an increased sense of self-worth by getting in touch with her own competence.

Cindy Harmon-Jones
Middleton WI USA

Last updated Thursday, October 19, 2006 by njb.
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